Court hears final arguments in massage-therapy assault trial
A jury heard Wednesday that there is “no grey area” in the case of an Edmonton registered massage therapist accused of sexually assaulting a client.
During closing submissions of a three-day trial, Crown prosecutor Neil Wiberg told the jury that Raul Sarduy-Fleites and the complainant have offered “two completely different accounts” of what happened during a massage appointment on May 26, 2014.
Court heard that the woman, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, alleges SarduyFleites removed the sheet covering her, touched her breasts and genitals, and forced a finger inside her repeatedly. She told the jury she told him “No” and to stop, but that he held her in place.
When the appointment ended, security footage played in court shows the woman walked to the front of the central Edmonton wellness store and massage clinic, pay a different employee, speak briefly with Sarduy-Fleites, and leave.
After going to police, the woman was examined by a sexual assault response team nurse, who found the woman’s breasts were sensitive, but did not find any evidence of tearing in her vagina, court heard.
Police charged Sarduy-Fleites with one count of sexual assault in December 2014.
Testifying Tuesday, SarduyFleites denied the allegations. He testified he and the complainant barely spoke to one another during any of the five appointments they had together. The woman alleged the assault happened during the final appointment.
Sarduy-Fleites’ defence lawyer, Deborah Hatch, highlighted a number of elements that she said cast doubt on the complainant’s version of events, including the woman’s own testimony that she is uncomfortable with nudity, that she found massages to be painful, and that she was diabetic and hadn’t eaten at all on the day of the offence.
She also questioned why the woman allowed her legs to be spread apart, and why she didn’t run or scream.
The judge is expected to give instructions to the jury Thursday.